How to Safely Walk Your Dog in Chicago

Just saying the word “walk” probably excites your dog. As a dog owner, walks can be a soothing start and end to your day, but without the proper training walks can become a dreaded chore.

Walking in Chicago

Your dog may encounter dozens of dogs and hundreds of people while walking in the West Loop, River North, or the Loop. This is great for his mental development, but a challenge for you. Your pup has places to go and people to sniff. He will want to pull, but pulling increases the risk of a situation where he’ll become aggressive or fearful.

By keeping him at your side, you dog learns that you’re in control of the walk. The best strategy: stop dead in your tracks or turn around the moment he pulls. When you resume walking, feed him a treat if he stays at your side. If he pulls again, stop and walk the opposite way. Why does this work? He learns that pulling gets him nowhere (literally), while walking at your side gets him treats.

What to Avoid

Steer clear of scenarios your dog reacts negatively to. If your dog doesn’t like skateboards or garbage trucks, it’s best to walk the other way. Trying to acclimate your dog to these items, especially in a busy in a city setting, will be ineffective and increase your pup’s stress levels.

Leashes and Locations

Retractable leashes give your dog more freedom to explore, but they’re not great for training. Use a standard leash while you’re still in the training stage of your pup’s life.

Chicago dogs don’t need extra stimulation. The West Loop, River North, and the Loop offer infinite distractions to a puppy in training. Use an empty dog park or quiet space. If it’s too cold outside, the hallway way of your Highrise building is a good spot. Consistent reinforcement is the quickest way to keep your pup at your side. Start early… you’ll be happy you did!